The Other Sister
March 8, 2001
Her calm demeanor can be deceiving. She won't overanalyze a situation.
When senior outfielder Kelly Hauxhurst steps onto a softball field, however, her competitive drive comes through. Hauxhurst, one of three team captains for this year's preseason-No. 4 University of Washington softball team, has a love-hate relationship with the game.
"It's a challenge when things aren't going well," she says. "It is discouraging to be in a slump. But the challenge can also be the best thing about softball."
Hauxhurst started playing softball at the age of eight in a recreational league in Westminster, Calif.
"I never really followed sports," she explains. "I played softball for fun and have always liked trying something new. It was just something I did to occupy myself."
Hauxhurst's occupation blossomed into a four-year MVP career at Westminster High School, where for two years she teamed with her younger sister, Lacy, now a sophomore catcher at Michigan State. This season will reignite the sibling rivalry, when the Huskies face Michigan State Feb. 24 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic in Georgia. The entire Hauxhurst family is making the trip to watch the sisters compete against each other.
"My sister used to get frustrated always being known as 'Kelly's little sister' when we were growing up. She wants to throw me out in the game we face each other," Hauxhurst says with a laugh. "We are excited to play against each other. When each of us need a break from softball or school, we will call each other and make each other laugh. She is one of my best friends."
The differences between the sisters don't end with the fact that they play on opposite sides of the country. While Kelly bats from the left side of the plate, building her game around speed and defense in the outfield, Lacy runs the game from behind the plate as a catcher, swinging for the fences from the right side.
The elder Hauxhurst knew she always wanted to go away for college to gain new experiences.She felt the University of Washington provided the best opportunity, because it would give her a chance to experience a new environment.
"Coach Wilson is really good. It was a still a new program, but it had become so successful in such a short amount of time," says Hauxhurst.
While leaving her family in California, Hauxhurst found a new family in the Huskies.
By staying on the west coast, she knew it would be easier for her parents, Mike and LuAnn, to watch her play.
"I fell in love with the campus first," she says. "It is so amazing seeing trees everywhere and being only a couple hour drive from the mountains. The rain never worried me. It rained on my recruiting trip and it wasn't something I was going to let bother me."
Hauxhurst is honored to contribute to the proud tradition of Husky softball. With a year left to go, she ranks sixth all-time in stolen bases, having been sucessful on 50-of-54 attempts in her career, and is also tied for eighth in runs scored with 129. Last season, Hauxhurst had a career-best .326 batting average and earned Pac-10 honorable mention honors.
"Putting on the Husky uniform before every game has a lot of meaning to me," says Hauxhurst. "The people who started this program worked so hard and the uniform is a reminder of how hard we have to work now and in the future."
The Husky name is gratifying. Hauxhurst knows this year's team is going to be different than in her three previous years. As one of only three seniors on a team with 10 freshmen, Hauxhurst wants to be a leader and "lead the challenge of not playing for results, but playing to have a good time. If there is one thing we can learn from past mistakes, it is to play with consistency."
The Huskies have made five straight College World Series appearances from 1996-2000, but have not finished where they have wanted to in World Series play. Hauxhurst puts things into perspective, knowing that it is an accomplishment to make even one College World Series appearance.
"Softball is mental game of ups and downs," she explains. "Even when we are not playing at our best, we still have to perform and be successful."
Competitiveness is a team aspect. Hauxhurst knows her 19 teammates - her sisters away from home - will help her keep that competitive drive.
The Husky softball family are determined to continue the pride and tradition of the past throughout the 2001 season - even if Lacy Hauxhurst stays true to her promise, and throws out her big sister.
by Theresa Ripp